Commuters already feeling Artscape's bite
For thousands of Baltimoreans, Artscape is a glorious annual civic celebration and an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate the arts. For Jack Purdy, it's a pain in the neck.
Purdy lives in Hampden and commutes via MARC to Washington from Penn Station. Let's let him tell his story:
Driving home last night, I noticed the city has banned parking on Lafayette Avenue between Charles and Maryland from this morning (7/12) through Tuesday morning 7/20. This is for Artscape staging, according to the festival's blog. They need a total of eight days to do this? I also noticed that all the meters on Mt. Royal Avenue had been bagged as of yesterday--with the festival not starting until Friday. And, of course, Charles Street above Mt. Royal will be closed for the third straight year for Artscape exhibits.
As someone who lives in the city, paying onerous property taxes and now a higher income tax, I am mortified that the police and the Department of Public Works revel in making it more and more difficult every year to get in and out of the city's train station. As I said in a letter to one of my Council representatives, this all seems to be done so that suburbanites can come into town when it's hot as blazes, eat bad funnel cake, and gawk at worse art. Meanwhile, those of us trying to get to our jobs to pay our taxes are told, gee too bad.
Part of me wants to remind Purdy that that's life in the big city. Cities have festivals, marathons, bike races and other events that alter routines. You can't live in or near a big city and expect to be immune from life's inconveniences. The light rail and No. 27 bus both connect Hampden with Penn Station, so it's not as if there aren't options. And we suburbanites bring a lot of economic activity into Baltimore on Artscape weekend. A city without festivals would be a pitiful place.
But really, disrupting parking for four days before the fair even gets started seems a bit excessive. Couldn't the city have negotiated a little harder with organizers to minimize the disruption?
At least there's this we can learn from the experience: If you are a Penn Line rider who boards at Penn Station, the week before Artscape is a very good time to schedule next year's summer vacation.